Acupuncture originated thousands of years ago in China. The first documented writings about acupuncture date back to 100 B.C., a few hundred years before the Common Era. It continued to be developed in texts as centuries passed and it became a standard therapy in China. However, Chinese interest in the practice began to dissipate in the seventeenth century because of the superstitions surrounding it. It was excluded from the Imperial Medical Institute at that time and wasn’t reinstated until 1949 after the installation of the communist government. In 1971, a member of the US press corps was treated with acupuncture while visiting China and shared his experience with the New York Times. It became accepted in the U.S. when the National Institutes of Health (NIH) reported positive evidence for its effectiveness.
Each acupuncturist has a different style and technique and they often blend Eastern and Western approaches. In order to become certified and licensed, all acupuncturists must pass a Clean Needle Technique exam. When trying to determine the necessary course and length of treatment they will perform an initial evaluation of the symptoms, behaviors, and lifestyles of their patients. They may also examine the tongue, colour of the face, and pulse in the wrist. Treatment plans will depend on the severity of the condition but in general it is common to receive six to eight half-hour treatments occurring once or twice a week.
Acupuncture is used as a method to relieve pain and provide relief to symptoms of other chronic health conditions. Thin, sterile needles are inserted into the skin at specific points to stimulate muscles, nerves, and connective tissue. In traditional Chinese medicine, acupuncture is a technique used to balance the energy or qi (chee) that flows through the human body. It is most commonly known for relief from joint, back, neck, and other pains, but it has also been shown to be effective in relieving chemotherapy-related symptoms, morning sickness, and menstrual cramps. Some Western practitioners believe that acupuncture can also be used to boost the human body’s natural painkillers.
Sometimes acupuncture points are situated far from the area of pain, there are points in all areas of the body. At the beginning of your appointment, the acupuncturist will explain the planned treatment area and a gown, towel or sheet is provided if clothing needs to be removed. Steps of treatment consist of needle insertion at the strategic points chosen, followed by needle manipulation. A practitioner may move, twirl, apply heat or electrical pulses to the needles. Treatment is complete after approximately 10 to 20 minutes and then the needles are removed, this typically does not cause any discomfort. After treatment, some patients report feeling relaxed and some feel energized. It involves little to no recovery time, and some possible minor side effects include soreness, slight bleeding or bruising where the needles were inserted. There are extremely low risks associated with acupuncture and like any other medical procedure, the health and safety of patients is always the number one priority.